Dodge’s 2019 Challenger takes things up a notch with new versions of its muscle car.
While every other automaker is producing turbocharged four-cylinder vehicles and investing heavily in electric vehicle technology, Dodge is keeping the muscle car alive with good old horsepower.
Building on the success of the Dodge Demon, the company’s hot drag car, the new 2019 Challenger is better than its ever been. Dodge invited me out to Portland, Maine, to drive the new iteration of the Challenger, and I jumped at the opportunity.
On the schedule? Dodge’s new Challenger Hellcat Redeye and R/T Scat Pack Widebody. Both V8 monsters tuned to quicken the pulse and make everyone around you completely jealous.
Exterior and interior impressions
Dodge makes some of the most masculine and muscular cars on the market right now. The Challenger is arguably its most attractive model of any muscle car out there. For 2019, Dodge didn’t make any major changes to the car’s exterior. Why would they? It has a classic muscle car shape, and it is one of the only modern muscle cars on sale today that actually reminds you of the old car it gets its name from.
The interior has touches of Dodge’s heritage, with some retro-looking gauges on the dash, but that’s really where the nostalgia ends. The interior is clean and modern, and FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system is one of the best in the industry with a robust feature set and a sleek display. It’s responsive and easy to use.
Some of the materials in the cabin could be more upscale, but then this isn’t a luxury car. It’s a mass-market muscle car, and for that market, the interior is more than acceptable.
What’s new inside the 2019 Dodge Challenger?
The idea behind the Hellcat Redeye is that the Demon has possessed the Hellcat. What this actually means is that the Hellcat Redeye gets a lot of the Dodge Demon’s equipment. The engine itself is mostly from the Demon. It has a unique air intake and some other adjustments.
It’s good for 797 horsepower, which puts the previous model Hellcat to shame. Even the non-Redeye version of the Hellcat gets a bump, thanks to the new intake for the 2019 model year It’s rated at 717 horsepower now.
As far as the rest of the lineup goes, the SXT and GT will now both be offered with rear or all-wheel drive. The R/T Scat Pack gains a widebody version, and there’s a new R/T Scat Pack 1320, which Dodge says is the fastest production naturally aspirated car built for the drag strip. Any Scat Pack makes 485 horsepower from its 392 cubic inch HEMI V8.
The Scat Pack 1320 drag car will do a quarter mile in 11.7 seconds. The Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320 is built specifically for drag racers who want to be able to race a car right off the showroom floor.
On road driving impressions
After partnering up with another automotive journalist, we set off on roads in and around Portland with our destination being Club Motorsports racetrack in Tamworth, New Hampshire. I drove the R/T Scat Pack Widebody first.
On the road, the Challenger feels large but agile and quick. The four-seater offers ample cabin space and seats that offer good support and bolstering. We spent hours in the cars over the course of the day, and I never felt fatigued.
The 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye is much the same on the road is the Scat Pack, just with a whole heck of a lot more power. It feels heavier in corners but only slightly so. This is a car that’s almost painful to drive slow. You want to step on the gas, hear the supercharger whine and the exhaust rumble as you rocket around other drivers.
On track driving impressions
Upon arriving at Club Motorsports, we sat through a short safety and informational presentation with Dodge personnel and some pro drivers that would be sitting shotgun guiding us around the track. After that, it was a quick familiarization lap in a few Chrysler Pacifica minivans loaded down with bloggers, Youtubers, and journalists, and then on to the cars for our own laps.
I drove the Hellcat Redeye first. We did a warmup lap to get a feel for the car. Then it was one hot lap and one cool-down lap. The Hellcat Redeye is a bit of a handful on the track. It’s a big heavy car with a ton of horsepower. It can get away from you if you let it, and you have to be careful in the corners especially.
On the one long straight, with the accelerator pinned to the floor the howling supercharger and raucous exhaust note make you feel like a champion no matter how good of a driver you are. It’s crazy to me that anyone with money can go out and buy one of these.
The R/T Scat Pack Widebody is a bit of a different animal than the Hellcat Redeye on the track. It’s more manageable, feels quicker in the corners, and is easier to control. If I were going to buy one of these cars, this is the one I’d purchase.
It has more than enough power, and it’s more manageable driving characteristics around the track make it a bit more enjoyable. Sure you don’t get the same level of thrust when the pedal’s down, but the overall experience is a little better.
The bottom line for both the Hellcat Redeye and the R/T Scat Pack Widebody is that they’re amazing and frankly ridiculous machines. They take what Dodge has built with the Challenger platform to new heights.
The Dodge Demon will live on in automotive lore for decades to come. It has solidified itself in history. The new 2019 Dodge Challenger models may not be remembered as fondly or for as long as the Demon, but if I had to choose between a Demon and a new Hellcat Redeye I’d have to think long and hard before making that decision.